I am supremely sad about Paul Walker's untimely passing this past Saturday. Mourning celebrities is such a weird, crazy, surreal thing. Like there's a hierarchy somewhere of how important grief should be that corresponds with how well you know a person. I didn't know Paul Walker. From what I do know, he was a truly exemplary person - someone who put as much time and effort into giving back to the world (through his non-profit, Reach Out Worldwide) and raising his family as he did to his craft and work. It's clear from observing the statements his current (Fast & Furious) and past castmates have made about him was that he was a positive force that touched lives well beyond theirs and his own. 'Angel' is a word I'm seeing most commonly describing him.
Paul Walker being awesome on behalf of Reach Out Worldwide
The biggest reason his death has touched me so much is that my mom. LOVES. Paul Walker. We've taken her to see every one of the Fast & Furious movies in the theatre (preferably IMAX :)) on opening weekend. Brian O'Conner was far & away her favorite part of the cast. It's crazy to me how the movies actually keep getting better with each subsequent one. I guess that's the mark of a truly successful franchise. They know exactly what genre and audience they resonate with, and they've grown that important connection over time. The cast will never be uttered in contention for an Oscar, but they've probably touched far more lives than any Oscar-winning film could - my wonderful mother included.
Moms & I at Fast Five opening weekend
I've always been fascinated by how Walker and the Fast & Furious franchise brought the street racing subculture to the mainstream. What we see on the silver screen is real life for so many people out there. So much so that the cast (having worked together for over 13 years on these movies) have become a family unto themselves. Brian O'Conner became Paul Walker, kinda like Jack Sparrow and Johnny Depp. Paul didn't seem to mind that one bit. (source: USA Today)
This weekend I was reminded of how varying our connections to celebrities are. To other humans in general, in fact. When news broke of his awful car crash with friend and business partner Roger Rodas, I went through stages of disbelief ("Please be a hoax. Please don't be real."), worry ("My mom. How's she gonna take this news?") and shock ("I don't want to believe this is real.") Something that surprised me was how rashly I reacted to the rest of my peers on social media. As usual, there were people quick to make jokes or make light of the whole situation. "It's just Paul Walker, that lame dude from those lame car movies," they insinuated. "Who cares?" others mused. "What about the thousands of other people who've died today?" Still others argued. I did something I told myself I'd never do on social media - I reacted to all that negativity.
I was surrounded by my boyfriend, bulldog, my bestie and another one of my bests that night. It didn't take long for me to realize I shouldn't have reacted to the haters and naysayers, but even then I didn't really emote much. I got home yesterday and saw this photo of Tyrese, and that's when the tears started to flow.
Original photo by Marcus Mulick
The moral of the story here is to never, ever be afraid to own how you feel. I'm surprised by the depth and range of emotions I've felt this weekend over the passing of someone I've never met, but not at all regretful about it. I see a lot of intrinsic values and traits Paul Walker possessed that I really resonate with, and I know that's why I'm feeling the way I am. I know my mom is grieving too, and how she feels is obviously of utmost importance to me. I'm grateful we had the time we did with him on this planet, and know the Universe has gained an amazing soul who did great things for others while he could.